7 Of The Worst Things To Do When You Struggle To Sleep

The Worst Things To Do When You Struggle To Sleep

Do you take a long time to finally slip into slumber? Even though you are tired? It also doesn’t help that a lot of bedtime tricks that work for several people aren’t giving you any relief. But maybe that’s the problem, experts say. Your regular routine could be the one to blame for your struggle to sleep.

If you do any of the things below, it’s time to change your routine or simply stop doing it.


1. Drinking Caffeine/Alcohol Or Smoking

Caffeine is a stimulant and can interfere with your late night sleep

Caffeine is a stimulant and drinking a cup of coffee post noon can interfere with your late night sleep. Drinking alcohol before you sleep is also a bad idea. After you hit the pillow, the alcohol in your system prevents you from entering a deep, restorative stage of sleep known as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep which results in disrupted and shortened sleep. When you are under the influence of alcohol, you tend to awaken in the latter half of the night when the REM sleep is more prevalent and find it difficult to get back to sleep, with the alcohol affecting many brain chemicals.


Sleep deprivation in the night can worsen daytime sleepiness and alcohol-induced performance impairments. Furthermore, you can rapidly develop tolerance to the sedative effects of alcohol and end up drinking more damaging your sleep and overall health as well.1

Smokers may look like they are stepping out for a little stress relief, but nicotine is actually a stimulant and it can cause insomnia.2


2. Reading, Watching Television Or Using Gadgets In Bed

increased screen time could limit sleep hours by interfering with circadian rhythms

Love binge-watching your favorite shows before bedtime? You probably know this but excessive screen time just before hitting the bed can impact your health. Increased screen time could limit sleep hours by interfering with circadian rhythms and promoting physiological arousal. Use of light-emitting electronic devices like cell phones and iPads for reading, communication, and entertainment can increase alertness at the time of usage and further delay bedtime. This may lead to reduced sleepiness, reduced secretion of melatonin, a hormone responsible for sleep, later timing of the circadian clock and reduced morning alertness.3


It’s perfectly fine to read a good old-fashioned book to put you to sleep but, keep in mind, the content that you read can have a significant impact on your depth of sleep too.4

3. Staying In Bed Awake

Excessive time spent in bed doing other things could influence insomnia


Treat your bed as a place to unwind and sleep. If you stay awake by reading, surfing the web, making a to-do list, eating, watching television, talking on the phone or chatting, you are unintentionally training yourself to stay awake in bed. Excessive time spent in bed doing other things could influence insomnia. Try staying awake during the day and hit the bed only when you need to sleep at night. And make sure to stick to a bedtime.5

4. Sharing The Bed With Pets

If you are a light sleeper, don't share the bed with your pet


Hear us out on this one. If you feel anxious or you simply need to unwind before sleep, maybe sleeping with your furry friend is a good idea. In fact, studies prove sleeping with pets can improve sleep because the owners feel secure and comfortable.6 On the other hand, if you are a light sleeper, you might want to keep your friend off your bed. It’s “ruff news” but dogs and cats can disturb your sleep by yawning, snoring, gasping or moving around. One study revealed sleeping with a dog in the bedroom didn’t disturb the quality of their owners’ sleep but sharing a bed decreased “sleep efficiency.” 7

5. Taking Medication Or Supplements

Cold and allergy medicines particularly those with a decongestant compound can cause insomnia


Some medications are known to interrupt your sleep patterns. Cold and allergy medicines particularly those with a decongestant compound can cause insomnia. Some asthma or heart medications such as beta blockers can cause insomnia as well. Ensure you read the ingredients list and their effects on the body when starting any new medication.8

Pharmaceutical sleep aids including melatonin supplements can alter sleep and wake timing. They could suppress endogenous melatonin production, a hormone that is secreted by the pineal gland and appears to have a role in regulating the circadian and seasonal biorhythms in the body which could further aggravate sleep disorders.9

6. Counting Sheep

Counting sheep could trigger anxiety

Most of us have been taught to count sheep when we struggle to fall asleep. Turns out, it could make things worse for some people. One study revealed counting sheep could trigger anxiety. Experts suggest practicing visualization instead. This is known to help slow down your mind and reduce anxiety – perfect for sleep! Need help picturing something calm? Try imagining a beach or a waterfall.10

7. Sleeping In The Wrong Temperature

Make sure your bedroom is cool when you go to bed

Your body goes through many thermoregulatory changes throughout the night, and if your bedroom is too hot or too cold, this could be keeping you awake. Temperatures under 12 degrees centigrade and over 23 degrees centigrade will keep you awake. So, make sure your bedroom is cool when you go to bed. It is important that you maintain a comfortable bedroom temperature to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.11

Remember, common culprits like stress and anxiety can also impact your sleep significantly. It helps to picture your bedroom as a place to unwind and to leave your worries behind. A quiet mind and a comfortable sleep environment can help you get that perfect slumber you deserve. Here’s to sweet dreams!